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There is a constant public health message that we must protect ourselves from the harmful damage that the sun can cause, but more importantly, we must look after our children in the sun! We still have a limited understanding of long term damage that can be caused short term exposure to the sun, but increasingly it is believed that a single episode of sunburn during childhood could lead to skin cancer in later life. It is essential, therefore, that you look after children when they play out in the sun, especially when on holiday to hotter parts of the world. You must also ensure that anyone else looking after your children, at nursery, with a childminder, or at school, also looks after their health.
What precautions should you take to protect your children in the sun?
- Apply sun screen with a sun protection factor of at least 50
- Re-apply sun cream throughout the day at two hourly intervals
- Re-apply sun cream after being in water, even if the cream states that it is water resistant
- Make sure your child's body is clean before applying sun cream, rub off any sand particularly before applying lotion
- Have the children wear sun hats, make sure that the backs of necks are covered too
- Avoid being in the sun altogether during the hottest parts of the day
- Create your own shade to sit in on the beach or in other exposed places
- Wear clothes with a stated sun protection factor
- In really hot places, keep t-shirts and hats on when swimming or playing in water
Be aware that sun cream is NOT recommended for babies under 6 months because their skin is delicate and very thin. Chemicals in sun block may actually harm the skin of a baby. Instead, make sure that they are protected by clothing and keep them in a shaded place, out of the sun.